Stripping Away Silence: Who Do I Want in Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS?

So, we know we have a new Smash Bros. in the works for two systems, the Wii U and 3DS. I adore this series and its Nintendo mash-ups! Despite a little hesitation at the announcement Namco Bandai is handling its development (nothing personal against Namco as a developer, but honestly they are not my favorite third party in the wide world of gaming), I am giddy at the thought of being able to experience the next entry, in two different formats. Now, I don’t know exactly what Sakurai has cooking up for the first handheld version of the game. Is it going to be essentially the same game as the Wii U but for the less-powerful 3DS, or will he come up with some alternate version that does things quite differently? Will there be a character roster that is identical for both, or will there be some mixing up of the fighters for the two games? All questions I cannot answer at the present time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t speculate about new fighters! So, to kick off my Smash Bros. guesswork, I want to lay out some of the hopeful additions to the game’s cast. Most of these will be Nintendo-made characters, but I’ll throw in a few third party possibilities, too. I’ve decided to come up with tentative move lists on top of just naming fighters, because that’s more fun. :) Note that this was completely done for kicks, so I’m not some insider at Nintendo or anything. :p Let’s-a go!

Black Hole Army’s brash scientist could bring a cavalcade of gizmos into the Smash Bros. arena. Her normals are not super powerful, as she is not the most physical character in the game, but her smash and special attacks hit much harder. She is surprisingly mobile on the ground, a reflection of her CO powers. Terrain does not affect her in any way, so she is impervious to slipping on ice or taking damage from poisoned or burning floors, for example. She is not the best jumper in the world, though. Her forward smash is a punch attack that causes an explosion upon impact. Her upward smash is a high kick with a poisoned knifed boot, and her downward smash is a slew of napalm that lasts for a second or two following her attack.

B = Spy Drone: Lash’s drone will fly straight forward, and will scan the nearest opponent. It will then fall apart. On its second use, it will radiate the element from that particular character (Mario is fire, for example) as a shield for Lash, doing adequate damage and eating projectile attacks. To reset its perimeters, taunt.

Forward + B = Call for Back-Up: A Black Hole Army soldier will run out from behind Lash, firing its rifle at opponents for a couple of seconds or until struck. The soldier will also pack rocks, car parts or nettles into the rifle at times to boost that particular shot’s power. This move allows Lash a chance to escape a dangerous situation, as the soldier acts on its own.

Up + B = Transporter: Lash’s third jump is a little different than most. Lash has to first set a target on the stage by using Up + B on the ground. She can reset it at any time when she’s grounded. When in the air, Lash will beam to her target spot, but will be delayed slightly by the transfer, leaving her open to further attack. Her device will then break, forcing her to redo the target point.

Down + B = Oozium Prototype: Lash will drop a vial of fluid onto the ground, and a small blob of Oozium will grow to the height of Pikachu running. It will then make a beeline for any foe on the same platform, and will encase that opponent inside it, doing solid damage and stunning them briefly. It will dissolve after a second or two, depending on the opponent’s ability to wiggle the joystick. If no one is on the same platform, it will bide its time and wait, but it only has a lifespan of five seconds before it breaks apart. It will hover under a jumping opponent, making it a little trickier to escape by leaping.

Final Smash = Black Cannon: Hawke will ride in on the Black Cannon, unleashing a massive laser blast that will do intense damage to anyone in its path.

The hero of the StarTropics series combines his ample elective weaponry from the first game with the psychic bolts and blades of Zoda’s Revenge for his movelist. His smash attacks would utilize Tink’s Ax (forward), Cleopatra’s Dagger (down) and Leonardo’s Katana (up). His Yo-Yo (whoops, I mean Star) would be utilized for his normal A attacks. As for his specials:

B = Psychic Shockwave: Mike’s Psychic Shockwave is at its most effective when Mike is at 0% damage. It’s of a decent size, travels fast and hits 4 – 8% per bolt. Mike can fire three of them at a time, after which he’ll need to pause for a few seconds before he can continue using them. As Mike takes damage, it loses its potency, becoming smaller, slower and weaker. At 100% damage it is as minimized as it can get.

Forward + B = Bola: Mike slings out this capturing item, which will incapacitate an opponent for 2 – 3 seconds. It doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it can lead to bigger and better things! On occasion Mike will throw his Wonder Horsehide instead of a Bola, which does three times the damage and can K.O. an opponent if they are weak.

Up + B = Shooting Star: Mike’s mace from StarTropics allows him to fly upwards as a solid third jump. The mace ball does damage, and can also lodge itself onto edges.

Down + B = Mirror: Mike can deflect normal projectile attacks with this special mirror. It can only take so much abuse before it shatters, though! Mike can utilize a special trick with this move. If he can perfectly time the mirror, he will strike the projectile with his Home Run Bat and double its damage!

Final Smash = Snowman: Mike unleashes this frozen attack and completely freezes the entire stage, opponents and all. This does about 10% damage to all of them. The Snowman effect lasts for 3 seconds. If he can reach one of his foes before it ends, he will unleash a barrage of attacks! He’ll use the Supernova to deliver a slur of strikes, blast them up with the Ray Gun, throw the Asterisk to hit all three opponents, and then use the Spikes to strike everyone at once! The initial foe he attacked will be a guaranteed K.O., and if the other opponents are weak enough, they will be knocked out, too. Can be devastating if well-timed.

Lyn is promoted from a mere Assist Trophy to a full-fledged fighter! The first Lord of Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken would take a different approach to combat than Marth, Roy and Ike. She is graceful like Marth, but her attacks and overall speed are much faster, and she can deliver damage in a hurry through combos. She also has a projectile option and a trap in her arsenal. She is designed to be far more tricky than Marth, with moves that allow her to bait opponents. Her forward smash is her standard attack from Fire Emblem, stepping forward with a quick sword slash from her sheath. If you press B again, she’ll attack with the sheath as well. Upward smashes have her doing a flip kick with both of her legs. Her downward smash is a quick spin attack with her sheath.

B = Brave Bow: Lyn’s bow is different from Link’s and Pit’s in that she can fire four arrows in quick succession, with a probable critical strike from the fourth. The longer Lyn holds B, the more arrows she’ll fire. She cannot aim her bow like Pit, nor charge an arrow like Link. Each arrow travels a fair distance and does 3 – 4% each. If the fourth arrow is a critical, she’ll do three times the damage and can send the struck opponent reeling. It takes a moment to ready the bow to start firing.

Forward + B = Mana Katti: Lyn will perform a forward dash attack, like her critical attack from Fire Emblem. However, there’s two catches to this move. You can hold B when you start the move to have her hold still for a moment. This may throw off an opponent’s counter attack. Secondly, she can feint as she runs forward by pressing B again, which has her bob and weave as long as the button is held. This too is designed to throw off counters. Once let go, Lyn will cancel the attack, allowing you to use the move again or some other attack. When Lyn is close enough to an opponent she’ll slash her sword for decent damage. She can dash off of a stage if you’re not careful. The attack will do the same amount of damage no matter if you use her pause options or not. In the air, she loses the ability to feint, but she can delay its use by holding B after starting it.

Up + B = Sol Katti: Her third jump is a somersault strike with her blade, juggling opponents in a similar fashion to Samus’ Screw Attack. She spins counter-clockwise. Lyn is very mobile in the air, and this is a great recovery tool. Does not do a lot of damage.

Down + B = Light Rune: The Light Rune is a mine-like item that Lyn can plant into the ground. She cannot set it off herself, but if an opponent steps on it, it will collapse an opponent and deliver a good chunk of damage. She can drop them in the air, as well.

Final Smash = Class Change: Unlike Marth or Ike, Lyn does not unleash a super-powerful attack as her Final Smash. Instead, she changes class, becoming a Blade Lord. Her normal attacks are now twice as powerful, her speed is increased (and her forward and back dodges let her disappear), her Brave Bow transforms into a Killer Bow, doubling its critical rate on all the arrows she fires, and her Mana Katti gains a powerful counter option during its feint phase, allowing her to shred apart an opponent if they attack her while she feints with a Critical Hit. She can stay as a Blade Lord for 20 seconds or until she lands a Critical Hit through Mana Katti.

The ferocious Wolf form of Link from Twilight Princess combines his might with the cleverness of Princess Midna to form a powerful team! Midna’s mastery of Twilight magic and the feral teeth and claws of Wolf Link give them more options than you may expect! When you dodge, Midna will cause the duo to disintegrate through the move, making them invulnerable longer than usual. There is a brief recovery most characters do not have to make up for this. Her taunts allow her to mimic other characters in the game that are fighting against you on that particular stage. Wolf Link handles normals all by himself, with Midna chipping in on the Smash attacks. Forward Smash is a quick spin attack from Wolf Link with Midna’s hair transforming into a fist, giving it a bit more range. Their Up Smash has Midna pull an Eye of Truth statue from the ground and swing it upwards. Their Down Smash is Wolf Link’s digging, with the debris causing the damage.

B = Feral Pounce: Wolf Link holds still, charging up an attack. Midna points to one of her foes, which the player can select by moving the analog stick. Once Wolf Link is ready, he’ll leap at the player Midna selected, and if they are close enough will deliver a strong attack that will send them reeling. It requires some time to utilize, though, so it’s best to charge it in the air or in an isolated space to use it effectively.

Forward + B = Midnight: Midna will toss a small ball of twilight matter into the air. The player can steer this at an opponent for minor damage, or can plummet it into the stage. If this is done, Midna will pull up a medium-sized structure out from the ground, which she can then throw. This does significant damage. It takes Midna a little time to summon the structure, though, and if the team is struck at any point during the move, it aborts.

Up + B = Twilight: A teleportation move where Midna warps both her and Wolf Link straight up. They do no damage, but they are invincible through the majority of the move.

Down + B = Void Field: Midna will cast a circle of magic out from Wolf Link’s feet. An unblocking opponent caught within this beam will be paralyzed, giving Wolf Link an opportunity to attack them. In the air, it is a much shorter attack with a very small sphere surrounding Midna. If an opponent enters that sphere, they will plummet to the ground, unable to third jump. Can be very effective if it is mastered!

Final Smash = Fused Shadows: Midna assumes her enormous, magically powered form from Twilight Princess, taking up residence in the background. She can deliver powerful strikes with her pole spear, summon up large items from the ground to throw, and grab and sling opponents in this form, which lasts for 10 seconds.

Saki may seem the logical choice to represent Sin and Punishment, but I think Kachi is a little more unique (and gives the roster more female representation!). Kachi uses her legs and feet for her normals, striking opponents with surprisingly powerful blows. She is not super-fast, but her run is boosted with her hoverboard, giving her mobility. She straps the hoverboard to her foot for her Forward Smash, giving a mighty spin kick. She also uses it for her Up Smash (she flips upside down and stomps her other foot, juggling opponents). Her Down Smash is a powerful heel strike assisted with her Hoverboard.

B = Blaster: Kachi fires off a stream of plasma fire, which she can spam for about 5 shots before the gun overheats. These blasts do adequate damage and fire quickly, but they grow weaker as Kachi continues. If the gun overheats, it will take five seconds for the gun to regain its ability to fire. She can also charge up a bigger blast by holding B, which will do more damage but will automatically force her to deal with an overheated gun. She can move while charging the blast, though.

Forward + B = Homing Missile: Kachi unleashes a missile that traces the opponent down. A strong attack, but the missiles are fairly slow and can be destroyed by other projectiles. Best used close. Only one missile can be used at a time.

Up + B = Hoverboard Salvo: Kachi jumps on her board and fires off her Blaster in a spinning attack, rising in the air as she does so. This causes her gun to overheat, but it makes it hard to counter her third jump! Covers a good amount of ground.

Down + B = Deflection: Kachi’s boots are powerful enough to return projectile attacks! She even splits them in two! This kick will turn even the most powerful standard projectile into two parts, sending them at an upward and downward angle away from her. Each half splits the damage difference. The kick itself can pummel foes handily, too!

Final Smash = Sin & Punishment: Isa joins Kachi in this tag-team Final Smash! Kachi will leap into the foreground and Isa will appear, and the two will aim at the cursor on-screen that the player can control with the analog stick. It’s like playing Sin & Punishment for 10 seconds! Hold the B button to fire Kachi’s blaster, and A will fire Isa’s. After ten seconds or so, Kachi will return to the stage. While it lacks a K.O. factor, you can dish out a ton of damage quickly, and Kachi is more than able to dish out K.O.s on her own.

Kyle is an ex-cop, so he certainly has the training to be a brawler in a Smash Bros. game. I imagine him with the same type of animation as he had in Hotel Dusk, and maybe could be a 2D sprite mixing it up with the 3D cast like Mr. Game and Watch. He hits pretty hard with a fisticuff-oriented fighting style, but he isn’t super fast or agile. Kyle carries his suitcase on him, using it to assist with a couple of his moves. His Forward Smash is a backhanded swing of the case. Kyle’s upward smash is a headbutt. The downward smash is a stomp.

B = Bowling Strike: Kyle will let loose a bowling ball, which hits low and fairly hard. It takes a bit to wind up the attack.

Forward + B = Shakedown: Kyle will grab an opponent and then ask them a question. You have to select Kyle’s approach from two options. If you pick the right choice, the opponent will be stunned and you can deliver a further attack. However, if you guess wrong, Kyle himself will be stunned. A risky move, but it can pay off. If Kyle takes too long to make a choice, it’s much like a throw tech, with both characters reeling slightly.

Up + B = Call Rachel: Kyle will lob a phone upwards, and if it hits the edge, he’ll be able to do a tether recovery. It hits opponents for 1% damage. On the ground, Kyle will talk with Rachel, who will motivate Kyle in a few different ways, including a slight health boost, making an item appear, or offer advice on one of his opponents and how to best do his Shakedown move.

Down + B = Briefcase Search: Kyle will open his briefcase, which will produce an item for him to use. The items are from the Hotel Dusk universe, not from the standard list of items Smash Bros. features. There are five possibilities, which include:

1)      Cassette Tape: Kyle can use this to throw at opponents, and if it connects, it will bind them briefly with the film that flies out.

2)      Matchbox: Kyle will light a match and light the whole box aflame, and then drop it. It will burn in place for a while, causing damage to anyone who steps on it.

3)      Summer’s Novel: Kyle can throw this item, which hits like a brick due to its massive size.

4)      Steak: Kyle will eat this delightful dish from Rosa, which will heal him 15%.

5)      Spare Shirt: A gag item, which Kyle will quickly return to his case.

Final Smash = Interrogation: A more complex Shakedown, where Kyle grills all three opponents at the same time. Kyle has to match up the items he holds to the correct character. If he can, he’ll guilt the opponent so badly they will be K.O.’ed. If you fail at any point, the Final Smash ends with no penalty to Kyle, but he will not have accomplished much.

The main character from Xenoblade brings along some different tricks to sword-wielding compared to Marth, Roy, Ike, Link, Pit, and Meta Knight. Shulk is more like Ike than the others thanks to the size of the Monado, but he has his own way of handling the large blade. Shulk’s normals hit fairly hard, but he’s not as quick on his feet as Marth or Meta Knight. He doesn’t lumber around like Ike, though. He can run fairly quickly and has better air mobility. His smash attacks are taken from some of his Arts. His forward smash is Slit Edge, the upward Air Slash, and the downward Back Slash. Note that these do not cause any attribute changes as they did in Xenoblade.

B = Shield: Shulk will defend himself with this move, which serves as a counter in Smash Bros. It’s a physical counter that will force the opponent to reel if they strike the shield, and Shulk will then launch them upwards.

Forward + B = Stream Edge: A thrusting attack that can cause trouble from blocking opponents. You see, Shulk can “break” through shields with this attack! However, it takes a moment to wind up, so Shulk will need to time his attack well to potentially shatter someone’s defense. If it strikes an unblocking opponent, it hits for moderate damage and will do damage to their shield regardless, but it will not break it.

Up + B = Purge: Shulk will briefly charge up the Monado, and then leap with an overhead slash radiating with energy. Anyone struck with this attack will find themselves briefly unable to use their special moves! However, it does not cover a lot of ground in the air.

Down + B = Shadow Eye: Shulk’s physical power will increase by 10% for a few seconds. It takes a bit of time for it to be cast, though.

Final Smash = Chain Attack: Reyn and Fiora will leap in to help Shulk deliver some punishment to an unlucky foe. If Shulk’s initial strike connects, Fiora will perform Air Fang to Break the opponent. Reyn will then perform Wild Down to Topple them. Shulk will quickly perform Shaker’s Edge to daze them, finishing them off will the Monado’s Buster attack.

Akari may seem like a weird choice. She’s only been in extreme racing games, and she doesn’t have any particular talents that would aid her in fighting. However, if you think outside the box, that jetski and snowboard can be rather intriguing potentials for a moveset, and she can use ice and snow to further bolster her abilities. Her dash would be on a jetski. The smash attacks would continue to play off her jetski. The forward smash would be her doing a Handlebar Rotation. Her Upward smash would be a Handstand. Downward would be a Submarine Dive.

B = Snowball Bash: Akari will toss a snowball in the air and smash it with her snowboard doing a stalefish. Both the ball and the board do damage.

Forward + B = Grind: Akari will ride the edge of the platform that she currently is on, plowing into anyone in her way fairly hard. She can slide off of the edge if she’s not careful. In the air, she’ll grind a very short trail of ice.

Up + B = 1080: Akari will jump and pull off a 1080 spin, which will hit opponents with the board if they try to counteract your return. Akari has great air mobility, and this is one reason why.

Down + B = Penguin Board: Akari will send this board sliding across the stage, which has the ability to freeze the platform it slides on temporarily AND make other players inadvertently ride it, which can throw off their game plan and possibly K.O. them! If she then grinds the ice the Penguin Board makes, she’ll go twice as fast.

Final Smash = Avalanche: A loud crack will happen, and then a mountainside of snow will pour onto the stage, crushing your opponents unlucky enough to be caught in its wake! This affects one half of the stage, so if Akari is on the left side, she’ll summon the downfall on that side.

There’s eight Nintendo brawling possibilities. How about four third party potentials? Two have a pretty good chance of happening, while the others are longshots that I’d be amazed if they made it in…but I wouldn’t complain!

It shouldn’t surprise you that I want a Skies of Arcadia rep in the game, right? I went with Aika because A) I wanted to have a couple of female third party reps and B) Lloyd covers the dual sword angle pretty well on his own. Aika is very agile, able to run and jump very effectively. She does damage adequately, too. She is a projectile master, throwing her boomerang for her smash attacks (forward and up will throw them in that direction, her down smash has her doing her critical animation from Skies), with two more in her special moves. She also has a curious talent to change the elemental attribute of her boomerang, which alters the damage and possible side effects it can do. I’ll explain that when I get to it.

B = Alpha Storm: Aika will stand still and twirl her boomerang, creating a stream of flame. Mid-range, does more damage the closer the foe is to Aika. Has a brief wind-up period.

Forward + B = Delta Shield: Aika will cast this spell, which absorbs a standard projectile on contact. The shield lasts until she is struck either by a projectile (which negates it) or a physical attack (which cancels it).

Up + B = Omega Psyclone: This is not as devastating as its Skies of Arcadia counterpart, but it is a solid third jump option. Aika will throw her boomerang up into the air, leap up to it, and then throw it in a downward slant, covered in flames. She’ll then fall.

Down + B = Element Change/Spell: Aika can utilize and swap the Moonstones powering her boomerang to one of the six elements in the Skies of Arcadia universe, granting her a spell on top of standard attack benefits. To change the element, merely tap Down + B. To use the spell for that element, hold B down after the initial press to charge it. They are:
Red = Aika’s default. She will do the most damage with the Red Moon’s fire-based powers, as they amp up her B and Up + B moves on top of her standard attacks. Her spell is Pyri, a fireball that will hover above her head as long as B is pressed. Once let go, she will sling it forward, doing decent damage. If an enemy hits the fireball above her head, it will disappear but cause the same amount of damage as if she threw it.
Green = Aika can poison an enemy on occasion with her attacks via Noxi with the Green moonstone. She will cast Sacri, which heals her by 10%, but she can’t constantly cast this spell in a spamming fashion, only once per “life”.
Blue = Aika’s smash attacks will send opponents further thanks to the wind-based powers of the Blue Moonstone. She will cast Slipara, which will send anyone caught in its close-range aura to sleep.
Purple = Aika may freeze an opponent with the Purple Moonstone. She is able to use the spell Panika, which can confuse a close opponent in front of her and reverse their controls!
Yellow = Aika can occasionally weaken an opponent’s defense by 25% with this Moonstone equipped. They will be shocked if this has happened, and they will take more damage for a few seconds following. Her spell is Electri, a quick lightning attack that doesn’t hit very hard but travels full screen quickly.
Silver = The Silver Moonstone’s talents don’t translate too well into a Smash Bros. environment. Instant kill spells and resurrections would be kind of cheap. So, I’ve decided to not include silver as part of Aika’s moveset.

Final Smash = Blue Rogues: Vyse and Fina come to Aika’s aid to help deliver a mighty Final Smash! Aika’s Lambda Burst kicks things off, igniting the entire stage aflame, doing 15-20% to all opponents who are grounded. Fina’s Lunar Winds has Cupil blow out the flames, but adds much more damage through crystallizing that gust into powerful blows to all enemies, about 20 – 25% each. Airborne opponents may get gusted offstage! Vyse will then throw the first part of Pirate’s Wrath, dragging one unfortunate opponent into the center of the stage. There he’ll wrap up with the dual slash attack, K.O.ing them. The three will all pose and then Vyse and Fina will leap off stage.

Okay, let’s do a character that actually has a chance of being in the next Smash Bros. game. :p

Mega Man was pushed to be in Brawl, mainly by Keiji Inafune, but if Capcom were to chip in and contribute a fighter, I think Mega Man could make a good fit. He could have a Kirby-esque power stealing option, but instead of absorbing them via a special move, Mega Man would acquire a “power” upon K.O.ing an opponent. It would alter his B attack and his smashes. So, for example, if he K.O.ed Mario, he would gain flame attacks. So, maybe he could gain moves from the Mega Man series revolving around flame. Heat Man’s Atomic Fire as a Up Smash, Flame Man’s Flame Blast for a Down Smash, and Sword Man’s Flame Sword for a Forward Smash. He’d use Fire Man’s Fire Shot as his new B move. There would be certain tiers every opponent would fall into, like Fire, Ice, Electricity, Metal, Wind, Water, Explosives, and Elective. As for his attributes, he’s got solid power and jumping strength but isn’t too fast on his feet. His normal Smash attacks would be the Mega Fist (Forward), which deploys his right fist in a short-range projectile. Upward could be Beat darting about, and Downward could be Tango as a sawblade.

B = Mega Buster: Mega Man can fire three small shots at a time in succession. I have decided to not allow him to Charge up the Mega Buster in this game. Mega Man will replace this with a Power when he K.O.’s someone.

Right + B = Slide: Mega Man will slide forward with a mighty blow. It’s quick and can strike hard. He can slide off of the stage, though!

Up + B = Rush Jet: Rush will appear under Mega Man’s feet and allow him to jet around briefly before transporting out again. Mega Man can fire two shots while on Rush with further B taps. He will need to leap off of Rush to make it a proper third jump, but he will not regain his second leap!

Down + B = Wire Adapter: Mega Man will look up and sling this Wire above his head, pulling anyone above him straight down if they get caught in it. Can be used as a tether recovery if done in the air (he’ll only be able to fire it straight up in any circumstance). Weak damage, but can setup further attacks.

Final Smash = Super Adapter: Rush beams down and transforms Mega Man into his Super form from Mega Man 7. He can fly around infinitely and land insanely strong punches while the adapter is active. Lasts for 10 seconds.

I had figured out all of Mega Man’s possibilities with his Power Gain, but wouldn’t you know it, WordPress ate it. XD I’ll try to remember what I had in mind later, as I’ve been dying to get this article up and I don’t want to spend another hour or so on it right now. Sorry!

With Namco Bandai developing the latest chapter of Smash Bros., it would be surprising to not have any of their characters pop up as cameo fighters. With that in mind, Lloyd seems like a solid choice to join the cast. He has his roots in the Gamecube Tales of Symphonia, and he was also in two Wii titles, Symphonia’s “sequel” Dawn of the New World and a hidden character in Soul Calibur Legends. Lloyd is fairly strong, with decent speed and jumping capabilities. Compared to Aika and Mega Man above, he’s more straightforward in his moveset approach. Forward Smash is Fierce Demon Fang. Up Smash is a quick upward angled Sword Rain. Down Smash is the second half of Demonic Circle.

B = Demon Fang: Lloyd will sling out one ground based wave projectile. If you press B twice, you can do a Double Demon Fang, but it keeps Lloyd stuck in one place for a while, so use it carefully. If done in the air, the move is very short range due to it having no ground to travel on.

Forward + B = Tempest: Lloyd will do a spiraling forward leap, juggling opponents with his blades. It does not go as high as it did in Tales of Symphonia. You can spin right off the edge if you’re not careful! Can be a decent horizontal return.

Up + B = Tiger Blade: Lloyd will leap into the air with a slash, and then deliver a downward slash at the arc of his jump. A good third jump option.

Down + B = Beast: Lloyd will stomp and do a powerful swing, summoning a lion’s head to stun opponents. If you are on top of the opponent, the swing and the lion will both hit, doubling the damage!

Final Smash = Falcon’s Crest: A large circle will surround Lloyd, and a wave of energy will radiate around him. These will damage and juggle opponents standing right next to him. He will then leap into the air, power up his swords, and then slash downwards, carving up anything in front of him for a K.O. You can hit opponents behind you with the energy waves, but they won’t be hit by Lloyd’s final slash.

Jade’s likelihood of being in Smash Bros. is slim, I know. Rayman has better odds if UBISoft consented to join in, but I just can’t ignore my favorite female lead in a topic like this. Jade, if need be, was a strong and able fighting force in Beyond Good & Evil. However, she preferred to use stealth over brute force to sneak by enemies in her original game, an approach that is difficult to transfer into the Smash Bros. world. To try to incorporate some of that aspect into Smash, I’ve decided to allow Jade to crouch and walk. When crouched she is shorter and harder to hit. She can still block, but she’ll take double the shield damage. If this is a benefit for Jade or not is up to the player. As for her Smash moves, she calls on her uncle Pey’j, Double-H and Segundo help her out. Her forward Smash has Pey’j use his Rocket Boots attack right in front of Jade. Upward Smashes have Double-H Shield Bash someone. Downward Smashes have Segundo drop a Boost Capsule, which will burst and cover the immediate area in boost nitro, which burns.

B = Gyrodisk Launcher: Jade will fire off one of these tiny but hard-hitting disks from her glove. She can fire two at a time, but there’s a slight delay in firing them. They travel slowly, but their small size makes them difficult to counter.

Forward + B = Digitalization: Jade can store items with Segundo. If she is holding one, pressing this will have her put it into her S-A-C. If she is not holding something, doing this will summon Segundo, who will pick up an item if Jade is standing on one (say, a Heart Container). If there is no item present, Segundo can absorb a projectile attack, although it will disable him from further use for a bit. When an item is stored, a second use of this move will allow Jade to use whatever she has stored. A handy trick, for sure! If she is K.O.’ed, the item she had stored is no longer usable.

Up + B = Super Attack: Jade will charge up the Dai-Jo staff and then leap upwards, spinning and unleashing small orbs of energy. It has great range and does decent damage.

Down + B = Camera: Jade will crouch and take a photo. If an opponent is close to her, the flash will blind them momentarily, putting them in a stun animation. When she first photographs an opponent, it gets stored in Segundo’s memory. If you can successfully photograph all three foes on one live, Jade will get a reward of 10% of her health being restored. She can only earn this once per life, but she can continue to stun her opponents with the camera.

Final Smash = Shauni: Jade will channel her deep mythical powers and unleash chaos onto the battlefield. Her DomZ heritage grants her talents similar to that of the DomZ High Priest at the end of BG&E. All of her enemies will have their controls reversed. All will take accumulated damage of 20% during the move. Jade’s standard attacks are twice as strong, and her Super Attack special can release twice the energy (and triple the damage!) it can normally. Jade has a meter of energy to pool from, and attacking drains it (with her Super Attack sucking away half of it per use, meaning it can only be used once in this phase), as well as the passage of time. If Jade doesn’t attack at all, it lasts around 15 seconds. Under normal circumstances, where Jade capitalizes on the increased offensive potential but refrains from using her Super Attack, it probably would last for 7 – 8 seconds. This is best used when Jade is surrounded!

So, there’s 12 potential fighters to join the fray of Smash Bros. 4. Will any of them sneak in? Your guess is as good as mine! I may do more of these down the road, depending on time. It took about 6 hours to do these! XD

Metroid Oddities AND Wildcat’s Favorite Series Cameos Extravaganza

Just to show that I haven’t forgotten about Metroid in the last month (I don’t know if I should take on these franchise-wide challenges anymore – they wear me out XD ), I’ve decided to discuss the three curious Metroid offshoots and a smattering of cameos from the series today.  Let’s begin with the weirdos.

Oddities

Super Smash Bros. (series)

Samus Aran has made a playable appearance in all three games thus far, armed with her Charge Beam, Screw Attack and Bombs for her specials (the Missile would join in for Melee onwards), the Grapple Beam for her throw/tether recovery, and the ability to fight as Zero Suit Samus in Brawl.  Zebes has been the most popular place from Metroid to battle, with the majority of the three game’s stages being plucked from there (SSB – Planet Zebes, SSBM – Brinstar, Brinstar Depths, SSBB – Norfair), with only Frigate Orpheon representing the potential worlds outside of that doomed planet.  Ridley has been in all three games (background in Planet Zebes in SSB, trophy in SSBM and boss/trophy in SSBB).  Kraid made his sole 3D appearance in Melee in the Brinstar Depths stage, and a Mother Brain-styled prop in the background shakes up the acid on the Melee Brinstar stage.  Metroids appeared as Assist Trophies, and the Screw Attack has been an item from Melee onward.

Metroid Prime Pinball

Developed by Fuse Games, who preceded this title with Mario Pinball Land, this revisits the setpieces of Retro’s Metroid Prime, but forces Samus to bounce around in Morph Ball form in a pinball re-imagining of that game’s events.  Apparently it was pretty decent!  I will admit to not having played it, so I don’t know how much more I can go into it at the present.

Metroid Prime Hunters

Another Prime spin-off, but this one was handled by Nintendo Software Technologies.  This was a second attempt to create a pure Metroid FPS (Echoes’ shoddy attempt of a multiplayer mode predated this a bit), and although it worked a little better, it required extensive use of the touch screen to control, and honestly I don’t think the Metroid universe needs to have the FPS style infest it.  Nintendo backed off from that angle after this game’s release, and I don’t know if we’ll see it return beyond the updated Echoes multi in the Wii Prime Collection.

Notable Cameos

The ones I’m including here are ones I find neat.  Metroid Database has a slew of official Nintendo ones as well as a few done by fans of the franchise for a more complete list than the one I provide.  Screen shots courtesy of one of my haunts, NinDB.

Kid Icarus (NES)

Metroid and Kid Icarus were in development at around the same time by R&D1, so I suppose the devs, hoping that the Metroids would be notable enough, snuck in an eerily similar Komayto (or in Japan, Kometo, or “child Met”) to populate the Greek-styled worlds of Pit and Co.  They’re on their way back for the 3DS Uprising, too.

Tetris (NES)

Samus, alongside a heap of other oddly-rendered Nintendo heroes, pop up in this celebratory screen for those who conquered Game B on the “speed 9, height 5″ settings.  She turned out the best, honestly.

Kirby Superstar (SNES)

Kirby can occasionally transform his Stone ability into this great Samus pose from Metroid II’s box art.  It’s pretty rare but also really awesome.  Samus’ Screw Attack symbol is also a treasure that can be earned in the Great Cave Offensive, here called the “Screw Ball”.  Clever pun.  In the DS remake, the Samus statue is seemingly gone but the Screw Attack remains.

Super Mario RPG (SNES)

Square must have liked Metroid a little to sneak Samus into Peach’s bed in the Mushroom Kingdom castle.  To see her, according to NinDB admin Fruguy64:

When you reach Land’s End for the first time, instead of completing it, head all the way back to the Mushroom Kingdom and sleep in the Castle’s guest room. When you wake up, head to Princess Toadstool’s room and check the bed.

Also, an action figure of Samus appears with a few other Nintendo cameos in a box in Booster’s Tower at the top.

Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES)

Among the more obscure cameos in this game (Japanese-only Famicom Fairytales: Yuuyuuki and Shin Onigashima, anyone?) is Samus and some Metroids.  Here’s the details courtesy again of NinDB to gain Samus’ Heart Star in Iceberg L2:

To earn her Heart Star, collect the Ice power before you enter the volcano and defeat all of the Metroids that you find hidden in each room. After defeating them all and reaching the end of the stage, Samus removes her helmet and awards you with her Heart Star.

Failure to defeat all of the Metroids will keep Samus’ helmet firmly on.

Those are my top 5, although there are plenty of others.  What Metroid cameo’s your favorite?  Feel free to share in our comments!

The Arsenal of Samus Aran – The Arm Cannon and its Beams

Welcome to part 2 of Samus Aran’s weaponry specials, this time focusing on her primary attack – blasting foes from afar with her Arm Cannon.


Arm Cannon – Samus’ projectile weapon is stationed on her right arm, and features several modifications to make it more effective, varying from game to game.  The default beam is the Power Beam, named after Samus’ Power Suit, and serves Samus decently in the early goings, but the deeper she gets into the game the more she will need upgrades to take on the nastier creatures she encounters.

Some of these upgrades include the Long Beam (allows Samus to shoot full screen, only seen in Metroid and Zero Mission), the Charge Beam (Samus can power up her shots into larger volleys, and can also perform a pseudo-Screw Attack in some games – this has been a consistent part of the Arm Cannon since Super Metroid, and is also her B attack in Smash Bros.), the Wide Beam (only in Fusion, giving it a wide berth when fired), the Spazer Beam (in Metroid II and Super Metroid, working in a similar fashion to the Wide Beam by giving Samus laser-like shots that spread out), and her alternate firing mode, her Missiles (which will be covered later on).  Let’s tackle the other beams one by one.

Wave Beam
Appears in: Metroid, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime, Metroid Zero Mission, Metroid: Other M

The Wave Beam has been one of the more variable elements in the Metroid series.  In Metroid and Metroid II, it’s a quivering orb that moves in a wave-like pattern that can travel through walls.  Super Metroid altered the look when it was combined with other beams, but it keeps up the classic shot when fired alone.  Fusion and Zero Mission went with Super Metroid’s combined style for the beam (since you can’t deactivate individual beams in these two games).  In Metroid Prime, the beam took on electrical properties and can home in on enemies if charged, but it loses the wall-passing aspect.  Other M unites the two prior concepts of the Beam into one, making it an electrical attack that can pass through some walls.

Examples:

Ice Beam
Appears in: Metroid, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion*, Metroid Prime, Metroid Zero Mission, Metroid: Other M

Samus’ Ice Beam is one of her more potent upgrades, allowing her freeze enemies and then use their frozen husks as platforms.  She’ll be able to freeze most enemies, includng those immune to other weapons.  And without it, Samus would not be able to survive the Metroid onslaught in most games. Most of the games make the Ice Beam a small blue blast on its own.

*In Fusion, Samus was unable to pick up the Ice Beam due to her infusion of Metroid DNA, but at the very end while engaging the Omega Metroid, the SA-X reunites with her and grants her the Beam for the final showdown.

Examples:

Plasma Beam
Appears in: Metroid II: Return of Samus, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime, Metroid Zero Mission, Metroid Prime 3 Corruption, Metroid Other M

The Plasma Beam made its debut in Metroid II: Return of Samus, and it commonly can tear through enemies when it’s equipped.  In Metroid Prime, the beam took on fire properties and was a short-range laser of flame.  Corruption kept some of these properties, but removed the short range aspect and could fire faster, but its overall strength was reduced.  Other M returned it to Super Metroid’s interpretation.

Examples:

Grapple Beam
Appears in: Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Metroid Other M, Super Smash Bros. series

Super Metroid introduced this beam, which the 3D Metroid games snatched onto and never let go.  In short, it allows Samus to swing over chasms, although Corruption made it a more vital part of gameplay, allowing Samus to rip shields away from enemies and absorbing energy.  Other M reverts it back to Super Metroid’s status, but allows two occasions to utilize it to attack bosses.  In Smash Bros., Samus uses it as her throw and can also use it as a tether recovery.

Examples:

Next time, we’ll go into Samus’ less common beam additions, as well as her missile options.

Gmod Monday, Volume 1

Hey kids! It’s Monday, and you know what that means! 8D

…okay, you probably don’t, since I just made it up, but today marks the start of a new thing I call Gmod Monday.

Garrysmod – also spelled “Garrys Mod” or “Garry’s Mod,” and abbreviated to “Gmod” – is a game manipulation and modification program that allows players to customize compatible games, allowing the everyday gamer to put on the programmer pants. A lot of people take Gmod (pronounced “jee-mod”) very seriously, creating new weapons, gear, levels and AI using the tools it provides, and a skilled Gmodder can come up with the most brilliant things, some of which actually get picked up by gaming companies for use (the largest proponent of this action being Valve, development of Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead).

But there are also people like me who just like dicking around in Gmod and making silly videos, and that’s what Gmod Monday is going to be about.I figure I’ll do two short ones or one long one every week, this way it’s not too skimpy on content. :)

Anyway, to start us off, I’m going to post one that sort of covers all the bases and will get anybody disinterested, interested. This video by YouTube user AyesDyef is a faithful adaptation of the intro from the original Super Smash Bros….with Team Fortress 2 characters.

Next up is a Gmod video by a user we’ll be viewing frequently: Kitty0706, whose videos are fucking phenominal. This particular video, Left 4 Farts, features the characters from the game Left 4 Dead in the style of a skit show. It’s a little rough around the edges, but definitely worth a watch.

And that’s it for this week’s installment of Gmod Monday! I’ll catch everybody later this week with the conclusion to the Banjo-Tooie review.

Looking Back – My Favorite Game of 1999

1999 was sophomore year, which was a vast improvement to being a freshmen.  However, I didn’t really get into any classes I wanted that year – the drama program excluded me for some odd reason, and my electives were, for the most part, fairly dull or boring.  It wouldn’t be until next year that I’d start relishing some of my classes and actually enjoy high school some.  Sad for me.  This was Chad’s last full year before transferring, so I at least had that.  To be honest, of all my high school years, this is the one that is the most unexciting to recollect…so much so that I’m not remembering much. XD

One thing I do recall is the acquisition of my latest console at the time – the Dreamcast!  If you haven’t gathered by now, I love Sega’s swan song, and managed to amass a fairly sizable collection for Christmas, getting Marvel Vs. Capcom, Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, 4 controllers and a VMU right off the bat (I bought Marvel Vs. Capcom in advance!).  Since the Nintendo 64 was still kicking, I now had two consoles to split my income on.  I began working to gain a little more money to cover my passions.  It’s the only time I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of two separate consoles releasing new games at the same time, and it was a frenzied, yet fun time for me.  There’s gems for both consoles I missed due to this, but in the end I’m quite happy to have had the chance to be involved in such a great time for games.

I don’t miss washing dishes. :p  I’d rather sell books, no question.

I apologize for the overall lack of information here – I honestly am drawing huge blanks about this particular year.

Shortlist:

Super Smash Bros. (N64, Nintendo/HAL Labs)

Nintendo’s major mascots finally unite for a fighting game different than most – instead of draining a life meter, it grows in size, which makes your fighter fly further the higher it goes.  The goal is to KO your foes offscreen and minimize taking off yourself!  A fresh and fantastic take on the conventional fighter.

Resident Evil 2 (N64, Capcom)

The sequel to Capcom’s second (counting Sweet Home) survival horror attempt refined the formula, adding in several new and awesome enemies, a compelling world to poke around in, and provided two quests to further expand the gameplay.  My favorite of the old-school RE’s.

Sega Swirl (DC, Sega)

Swirl manages to overcome my usual dislike of puzzle games by providing simple yet addicting gameplay – match the swirls by their color to clear the board.  It’s a great multiplayer experience.

Soul Calibur (DC, Namco)

Namco’s weapon-wielding 3D fighter brought the Dreamcast one of its first jaw-droppers – amazing visuals and deep gameplay combine with intriguing characters and a variety of modes for an excellent game that has yet to be beaten by its sequels.

In my opinion, the best game of 1999 was…

Soul Calibur (DC, Namco)

Powering up Soul Calibur for the first time was a very prominent moment of awe for me (and most gamers, I’m sure). The power of the Dreamcast was quickly evident with SC’s crisp modeling, detailed backdrops and smooth animation.  Watching a fight was almost as great as participating.  Namco’s team took the crusty PS1-based engine the arcade release featured and turned it on its head completely in its seven month porting, ensuring that it would be a strongpoint in the early days of the system.

Luckily, Soul Calibur is not reliant on its beauty alone to wow, as its gameplay is full of depth.  Personally, I’ve yet to play a 3D arena game that has left as much of a lasting impression as the first Soul Calibur.  It managed to click a ton of the right switches for me.  Developing your tactics required a different method of playing than Capcom/SNK designed 2D fighters, as Namco had three attack buttons – vertical strikes, horizontal strikes, and kicks, and a guard button.  Directional input altered these attacks, as did running, jumping, crouching and occasional commands.  Guard plus a Strike button allowed you to throw your opponent in vicious ways, and you could counter attacks with well-timed taps of back or forward with the Guard button.  Most fighters held unique movesets and weapons, with a few unlockables that mimicked other fighters, but with a few tweaks.  In short, there was plenty to experiment with, and a heap of gameplay gold to be found within the engine.

What ultimately cements Soul Calibur as such a classic to me though is the fact that Namco has made such pains to pad its sequels with unnecessary crap for questionable reasons.  The first game was nigh-perfect, but Namco has never returned completely to the template they first established.  With guest characters from other franchises (several of which make little to no sense at all – Spawn?  Darth Vader and Yoda?), female character designs that dive deeper and deeper into the smut shop on the corner (and whose breasts grow exponentially per game, and become more and more prone to nipple exposure), idiotic modes that ruin the overall vibe of the game (a strategy RPG?!?), modifications to the core gameplay that are not needed (walls, alternate weapons with bonus effects, quick time events in between matches), a plot line that seems content in retconning itself with every chance it gets, and a myriad of other gripes I could continue piling on, I secretly wonder if Namco is trying to sabotage its second major 3D fighting franchise as it rolls along its course (another point – SC3 corrupts PS2 memory cards, and this issue was never resolved!).  Thankfully, I can forget all of Namco’s mistakes by revisiting this game, the one that launched the franchise into the big leagues, and remains unbeaten as the champ of 3D fighters, as far as I’m concerned.

Some personal anecdotes…

I tend to play as Nightmare or Siegfried, as both have similar styles and work well for me.  I also enjoy playing as Taki (although I’m terrible with her), Seung Mina and Maxi.

I’ve completed this 100%, including the hidden missions.

I LOVE the art gallery for this game – no other has come close to topping it.  It’s full of awesome art of many styles, and is a delight to pour through.

The only addition I would make to Soul Calibur is III and IV’s Character Creation system – that was arguably the best thing Namco’s come up with so far to its sequels.  It’s fun recreating my OC’s and seeing them in motion.  It helped design some for a project of mine, actually.

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings

Bionic Commando: Elite Forces

ChuChu Rocket!

Crazy Taxi

Dead or Alive 2

Dino Crisis

Donkey Kong 64

Hybrid Heaven

Jet Force Gemini

The King of Fighters ’99

Mario Golf (video game)

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber

Persona 2

Power Stone

Prince of Persia 3D

Quake III Arena

Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Sega Swirl

Silent Hill (video game)

SimCity 3000

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike

Super Smash Bros.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Unreal Tournament

Worms Armageddon

WWF Attitude

Sonic Adventure

Soul Calibur

Back to 1998Forward to 2000

Super Mario Spin-offs: The N64 Edition

The Nintendo 64 was responsible for more Mario mainstays than you may expect – Mario Kart took off on its own, while the Mario Party and Sports franchises were born (and reborn) here.  Super Smash Bros., arguably the most important series in Nintendo’s stable, also saw its origins begin on the N64.  A fascinating time for sure.

Mario Kart 64
Pub/Dev: Nintendo
Players: 1 – 4

Mario Kart was the first multiplayer sensation for the Nintendo 64, predating Goldeneye by a few months.  Wario and Donkey Kong replaced Koopa Troopa and DK Jr., respectively, and the track designs switched heavily from the last game’s, becoming three dimensional and featuring more diverse locales.  Some SMK purists disliked the alterations, but Mario Kart 64 was a massive success and it became one of Nintendo’s primary franchises.  Further Mario Karts will be covered in their own separate article.

The infamous Blue Shell made its debut here, becoming more and more vile as the games have progressed.  The original lacked the explosive aspect the later games made it to be, and it   In fact, it was a perfect rear shield (if you could get one and make it back up to first place) and wrecked plenty of havoc in its wake as it pursued the leader (woe be it to the player who was in first place and fired off one of these – it’d turn right back around and smack them!).  All Karts could now hop, too, removing the Feather item from play.  The speed-building coins were also left off the game plan, but a player could perform sliding boosts with some practice.

This remains my favorite in the franchise.  It reaches some magical plateau for me that most the others have not.  I like SMK and Mario Kart DS, but hated Double Dash.  I’ve yet to play the GBA or Wii titles.  But I think I’ve had the most fun with this one.

Yoshi’s Story
Pub/Dev: Nintendo
Players: 1

Yoshi’s second platformer diverted from the earlier Yoshi’s Island in many ways.  Baby Mario took a backseat, for one, allowing some tranquility for the player from his constant whining.  Second, the game’s artistic style tried to run with an arts and crafts storybook approach (one that Kirby’s Epic Yarn pulled off far smoother, if you ask me).  Third, the gameplay was restructured heavily, losing a fair amount of its charm and difficulty in the process.  It’s not warmly remembered by most.

I skipped Yoshi’s Story due to lack of interest and the bad reviews, but bought Dark Rift and Mission: Impossible.  There’s a problem there. :p  I’d like to think I’ve gotten better over the years.

Mario Party
Pub: Nintendo/Dev: Hudson Soft
Players: 1 – 4

An experiment with Mario playing a life-size board game with his buddies and rivals became another hit for Nintendo during the N64 era, and would be one they would run to the ground by its eighth installment on the Wii.  Mario Party is a snoozer alone, but with a few friends it becomes quite the party (ha!).  The initial game however had some drawbacks – namely, the wrist mangling control stock rotation games, which will likely keep it benched for eternity for its sequels.

The first game is the only Mario Party title I’ve owned, and the novelty grew tired quite quickly. Compared to Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Smash Bros. and Perfect Dark, this was not all that popular with me or my friends, so off it went to Funcoland, more than likely.  I do like the menu music a lot, though (Yasunori Mitsuda, aka Mr. Chrono Trigger, did the music for the first game).

Two more Mario Parties were held on the N64 hardware – the second spun around costumes and an amusement park, while the third introduced some new faces – Waluigi and Daisy joined the cast.  The series would flourish on the Gamecube with four more entries, and one final hurrah on the Wii.  A DS and Game Boy Advance version were also released, as well as on the ill-fated e-Reader.  It seems that Nintendo has retired Mario from having any further bashes, as Wii Party has seemingly taken over.  We’ll see!

Super Smash Bros.
Pub: Nintendo/Dev: HAL Labs
Players: 1 – 4

The original Super Smash Bros. was quite a shake-up to the gaming community.  Not only did it bring together Nintendo’s biggest heroes into one game, but it also reworked how fighting game mechanics could flow.  Removing the limit on health and instead making it an endangerment, and by switching the KO’s to being knocked off of the stage, Smash Bros. became an overnight smash (god, I’m bad with puns right now XD ), and would become a blockbuster of all Nintendo’s many blockbusters.

The initial line-up was a little underwhelming compared to its sequels – boiled down to the essentials, we have Mario, alongside Luigi (who’s hidden) and his spin-off mates Yoshi and Donkey Kong tangling it up with Legend of Zelda’s Link, Metroid’s Samus Aran, Starfox’s Fox McCloud, Kirby’s…Kirby, Pokemon’s Pikachu (and the secret Jigglypuff), and two additional franchise reps that need to be unlocked, Earthbound’s Ness and F-Zero’s Captain Falcon.  These twelve form the core of Nintendo’s legendary video game lifeline, and Melee and Brawl would build off of this core for their richer rosters.  Some consider this first one to be the best, while the others have their fair share of fans.  One thing’s for sure, though – it proved to be one of Nintendo’s wisest releases of the N64 era, proving to be a sales behemoth with each sequel.

I like Brawl the most, I’ll admit, but there’s something novel about the simplistic beginnings of the franchise.  I doubt I’ll feel the need to revisit Melee, but I have enjoyed my second ownership of the game that started it all.

Mario Golf
Pub: Nintendo/Dev: Camelot
Players: 1 – 4

Hot Shots! Golf was proving to be a fairly lucrative property for Sony during the Playstation era, and Nintendo somehow coerced its original developer, Shining Force developer Camelot, to switch sides and become a part of Mario’s legacy.  Camelot reinvigorated Mario’s golfing roots from NES Open, incorporated their well-regarded golfing engine to the mix, and spawned the beginning of the Mario sports onslaught that would follow.

Alongside many of Mario’s usual cohorts, Camelot included a few original golfers to spice up the game.  It would be the only time Camelot would do such a thing to a Mario console sports title.  They would go on to make the Gamecube’s Toadstool Tour, and would create a completely original golf game with Capcom called We Love Golf!, which may be their finest work gameplay-wise, but is quite obnoxious otherwise (terrible voice work and dorky character designs do not a good game make).  Why Nintendo has ceased the golfing goodness is beyond me.

I hate the N64 Mario Golf.  I’ve explained it before, but I’ll summarize it here – the golfers are too mismatched.  Mario outdrives Luigi by 30 yards or so, and poor Luigi will hardly be able to keep up in a standard match.  Toadstool Tour remedies that issue quite nicely, and I think it feels better gameplay-wise, too, so :p on this one.

Mario Tennis
Pub: Nintendo/Dev: Camelot
Players: 1 – 4


Camelot was asked, after their golfing success, to bring back another of Mario’s old sporting outages, the forgotten Virtual Boy Mario’s Tennis.  Camelot was a little more creative this go-around, too, being allowed to introduce a whole new archrival into the Mario universe through Waluigi, giving Luigi his own doppelganger.  Camelot also rescued Super Mario Land’s Princess Daisy and Donkey Kong Jr. from obscurity.  Super Mario Bros. 2 miniboss Birdo and Mario enemy mainstays Koopa Paratroopa, Shyguy and Boo were also added to the mix, and Toad had a chance to actually play (a surprising rarity in these games).  Mario Tennis is often considered the pinnacle of Mario’s sporting excursions.

I’ve yet to play this, but I’m looking forward to seeing if it tops its sequel, Mario Power Tennis for the ‘Cube (and Wii).

Paper Mario
Pub: Nintendo/Dev: Intelligent Systems
Players: 1

With Square gone making massive moolah on their Playstation games, Nintendo turned to their internal developers Intelligent Systems, best known for their Fire Emblem/Wars titles, among many others, to give Mario a second RPG adventure.  In their hands, Intelligent Systems took the graphical style in the exact opposite direction of Square’s faux-3D Super Mario RPG – flat, paper-thin sprites.  Mario and his small army of buddies (who can assist him both in battle and on the overworld with unique skills), Mario has to rescue Peach from Bowser.  Not the most original plot, but the later games in this franchise make up for that.

Paper Mario continued the action command system Square created for Mario’s SNES RPG, taking it to further heights.  Mario and his current ally can add oomph to their attacks by successfully performing the desired action, and could reduce damage taken if timed correctly.  It made battles a little more interesting.  Also, there were no random battles – all foes were visible on the Mario platformer-inspired stages, and could be avoided altogether with some skill.  Mario’s partners added to the joy, enabling him new abilities that he’d need to use to make it through the game’s hazards.  Its graphical style was also excellent, with a charming world to explore and cute takes on conventional Mario enemies and the Mushroom Kingdom’s citizens.

While it has a few downsides, Paper Mario holds up pretty well.  Its sequel, The Thousand Year Door, is much more imaginative and is better-designed, and is my favorite of the Mario RPG’s.  Ihaven’t played Super Paper Mario yet, but I’d like to someday to see what the fuss was all about (many NinDB’ers hate it).

We’ll be trekking into Game Boy Advance territory next time – would you believe it never got its own original platformer?  In light of that, we’ll be focusing on the spin-offs.

VC Recommendations: Blaster Master (NES), Super Smash Bros. (N64)

Nintendo’s been on a fairly decent roll these last few weeks, eh?

Blaster Master

W- Sunsoft’s classic is a fantastic early blend of genres: there’s plenty of shooting action, exploration in two different perspectives, RPG-esque bits, and some very challenging boss battles, all mixed up with top-notch NES visuals and one of the best soundtracks of the 8-bit era.  Tight controls round up a perfect package of NES gaming bliss.  This comes highly recommended!

Super Smash Bros.

W- For those more acquainted with Melee and Brawl, going back to the N64 original is a little awkward.  The two sequels have added so much to the franchise’s core that it will take a little readjustment to get back into the simpler gameplay groove of the first.   However, that’s not to say that this is terrible or bad.  The excellent fighting engine is here, and after getting used to not being able to air-dodge, use side special move or charge smash attacks, the fun, chaotic, free-for-all atmosphere is here in spades.  Some of the series’ best stages are here, too – I adore Saffron City, the Mushroom Kingdom and Hyrule Castle, which never got a second chance to shine, alas (the Melee retro choices make no sense to me XD ).  And the character choices, while a meager 12, happen to be the most important main characters in the Nintendo universe, and the novelty of these titans duking it out remains well preserved in this.  If you like the series, it’s definitely worth considering a DL.

Super Smash Bros: Giving Franchises a Second Wind Since 1999

One thing I love about the Smash Bros. games is how their effect on old/obscure/dried-up franchises is nigh magical; the series has rejuvenated so many of those franchises that it’s almost silly, bringing both big and small titles back from the brink. The fact that Smash Bros. games are pretty much advertisements for what Nintendo has to offer helps, of course (I got into WarioWare and Pikmin because of Brawl), but the truth is out there, friends, and it dates back to the very first installment of the series.

Samus is a prime (heh) example here; by the time SSB on the N64 rolled around, Nintendo’s first bounty hunter/mercenary/whatever they want her to be this week had only had three games, the last of which emerging five years prior to SSB’s debut. Metroid games have always been great, but Samus’ inclusion in SSB – which had been a long shot and a surprising choice at the time – really put her on the map, because three years following the first Smash Bros. game (and eight years since Super Metroid), two new Metroid games launch side-to-side: Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. From here, the Metroid franchise just fucking took off like a rocket; Prime would receive two sequels (and then a compilation of all three games) and two spin-offs, the original Metroid would be released in the GBA as part of the Classic NES Series and then remixed for the GBA title Metroid Zero Mission, and in the future we have Metroid: Other M to look forward to. Metroid and Samus went from being franchise underdogs to absolute power players in the Nintendo market, becoming one of their biggest, most dominating franchises, especially amongst the western audiences. Perhaps a show of this strength can be found in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, being one of the few series represented by more than one new stage and carrying a massive, largely remixed song set – not to mention the inclusion of Zero Suit Samus as an additional character (a design first introduced in Metroid Zero Mission and teased at in the original Metroid game with the Justin Bailey code), and two boss characters in The Subspace Emissary.

The Earthbound/MOTHER series has received a much lower degree of success, Ness being largely unknown to gamers by the time the first Smash Bros. came about, but the amount of popularity it’s garnered hasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, Nintendo doesn’t seem intent to bring the love to the Western audience, what with a lack of Earthbound on the Virtual Console and a translated version of MOTHER 3. But Ness (and now Lucas) are known characters, whereas Western audiences would have absolutely no idea if Ness hadn’t been acknowledged in Super Smash Bros.

And let’s not forget Captain Falcon and the F-Zero franchise; due to the good Captain’s inclusion in Smash Bros., the F-Zero series boomed, receiving several GBA spin-off titles (of dubious quality) and (a rarity for Nintendo franchises) an anime in its honor (also of dubious quality, but hey, it’s sort of flattering I guess). While there haven’t been many mainstream F-Zero games (only three overall), Captain Falcon’s continued presence in Smash Bros. titles and his immense popularity amongst fans (mostly as a meme, but still) guarantees that F-Zero will continue to live on in some form or another.

Then comes Super Smash Bros. Melee, where three largely unheard-of franchises come to light: Ice Climber, Fire Emblem and Game & Watch. In the cases of the first and third, much like Earthbound, the most to happen was a raise in fan-based awareness; thanks to Melee, Nintendo fans who didn’t know better could associate Game & Watch to the company, providing a greater interest in the series, and Ice Climber, like the original Metroid, received a port in the Classic NES Series on the GBA.

Fire Emblem, however, managed to walk away the winner of those three; previously a Japan-only series, Nintendo took a gambit by including Marth and Roy in the US, European and Australian releases. While there was an ulterior motive involved (promoting Fire Emblem 6 and its US debut, thanks to Roy’s inclusion in Melee), the gambit ultimately succeeded as now Fire Emblem has a place amongst English-speaking countries and has seen numerous sequels in the time since Melee’s release. Marth’s presence in both Melee and Brawl also increased awareness of him as a character; this, I’m sure, is what prompted Nintendo to re-make the original Fire Emblem for the Nintendo DS, with spiffy new graphics and everything.

And then, there’s Brawl.

In this case, it’s mostly the Assist Trophies that do the advertising here, but a couple playable characters also contribute:

  • Pit has skyrocketed the general awareness of the Kid Icarus series, although we have yet to see a new installment to the franchise
  • Little Mac’s inclusion has spurned a new Punch-Out!! title after so many years of idling
  • Saki, in tandem with the Virtual Console translation of the original Sin & Punishment some years after its Japanese release, has drawn attention to the series and allowed a world-wide release of S&P2
  • Lucas and Porky have further promoted MOTHER, particularly MOTHER3 (irritating western gamers with a Japanese-only release for the title)
  • To a lesser extent, Jeff increased awareness of Earthbound
  • Olimar’s presence cements the Pikmin series as a power player
  • People actually know who R.O.B. is now
  • Starfy being an Assist Trophy has finally brought the titular character’s series to the west
  • And finally, Isaac’s presence has spurned a new Golden Sun game.

It just goes to show how much weight and power a multi-franchise crossover fighting game can sling around.

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